By Patrick Omorodion
As Congo DR side, TP Mazembe file out today against Inter Milan of Italy in the final of the 2010 FIFA Club World, one player the world will look out for to help the Africans cause a greater upset is the goal tender, Muteba Kidiaba.
He stood like a rock of Gilbrata between Brazilian side, SC Internacional do Porto Alegre and goal, producing incredible saves, causing the encounter to record a barren first half before Mulota Kabanga and Dioko Kaluyituka struck twice to hand them and Africa their first final in the competition which was introduced about a decade ago.
Ironically last year when the same team played in the competition after despatching Nigeria’s Heartland FC in the African Champions League final, Kidiaba was the villain as he bagged a red card despite his sparkling performance in the fifth place match against Auckland City.
Speaking to fifa.com after they cruised into the final, Kidiaba said that he was spurred to do well because “I was keen to banish that memory, and to try to help my team-mates this time, rather than hinder them.”
He would however not take all the credit for their final slot stressing that “today was not about the performance of one single player. This feat was achieved by a solid, well-prepared team.”
Savouring the final ticket, the goalkeeper whose stock in trade in celebrating a goal was dancing with his buttocks, added that the Black Stars of Ghana quarter final feat at the 2010 World Cup also helped to ginger them to do Africa proud.
“We’re so proud to be flying the flag for Africa. We’d like to think that the Congolese nation, as well as people all across the continent, are behind us, just as they were for Ghana at the World Cup in South Africa,” said Kidiaba.
“This was always going to be a great year for African football, but it must be said that overall the World Cup was a little disappointing for our confederation’s teams,” he said, adding, “But Ghana showed us the way. We’re now in the final and the cup is within touching distance. We’re confident we can put in a performance that will enable us to lay our hands on it.”
One man who may prove to be a stumbling block to this burning ambition is another African in the colours of Inter, Cameroonian star, Samuel Eto’O Fils who is expected to team up with another goal machine, Diego Milito, Javier Zanetti and midfield maestro, Wesley Sneijder, whose exclusion from the nomination from the Ballon d’Or is still causing some ripples around the world.
The lethal strength of Eto, Zanetti and Milito notwithstanding, Coach Rafael Benitez may have to dig into his bag of tactical reservoir to plot Mazembe’s fall if the heroics displayed by goalkeeper Kidiaba against the Brazilian side in the semi final is anything to go by.
For Mazembe’s Senegalese coach, Lamine N’Diaye, his players have gathered enough confidence from the victories against Club de Futbol Pachuca and Internacional and look good to stand Inter Milan toe to toe especially with the rear manned by a goalkeeper he described as “a magician” to check the Italians.
Even though Benitez may be satisfied he has a lethal attack to tear apart the defence of the Africans, he must be wary of Mazembe’s duo of Mulota Kubangu and Dioko Kaluyituka who tore the Brazilians defence to shreds in the epoch 2-0 victory on Tuesday.
Whatever today’s result, TP Mazembe have achieved what no other African team have done in the past. Their coach says he is proud of the players whose performance so far “It’s very good for this team and for the Congolese people, and every African should be proud of this team.”